dust houses by maria a. lopez

Colombian artist Maria Adelaida Lopez makes these amazingly gloomy and sweet/sad houses by covering a cardboard model with vacuum cleaner dust. After moving to the USA for her Masters, she cleaned people’s houses for a living – the dust on the houses was originally taken from these cleaning sessions. Now that she’s no longer a student, but a practicing artist, Ms. Lopez receives filled vacuum cleaner bags to work with, but I just love the idea of the original dust houses so much.

I love how they are banal (because they came out of a really everyday, basic ritual), confrontational (because they boldly exhibit the dust collected in houses of rich people who don’t do their own cleaning) and quietly moving (because they are literally made up of the particles of matter that make up all our lives – the detritus of people’s lives is collected together in each house and “once you start getting closer you begin to first smell, then to see the hair, the skin, the lint, the debris… you have a physical experience”) all at the same time. Obviously there is also the loaded idea of the Latin American cleaning lady, but I don’t really want to talk about it, or know how to talk about it, since I’m not in the US and all I know is what I’ve been fed through movies and TV.

Lopez says that the models are of houses that “represent the ‘American Dream'” and that the entire series represents ideas around “domesticity and humanity, the meaning of dirt” and the idea of “putting one’s house in order”. There’s that whole thing about a house being like a directory of a person, where each room represents some part of the human body or personality, and I really like how these lovely objects connect to ideas like that as well.

You can read more about Maria Lopez’ amazing body of work here, and see more images of the dust houses, as well as a more thorough artist’s statement, here.

The Fisher’s Mansion; 2005

The Johnsons and the Ramirez; 2007

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